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Eisen (1790 - 1848)

A Tender Embrace with Married Woman

Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: c. 1830
Size (H x W): 9.75 x 13.5 (inches)
Provenance: Exhibited at the Museum of Erotic Sex, San Francisco
Signature: Most shunga were unsigned, therefore the artist is attributed.
Condition: Very good color and impression, light vertical fold, light surface soiling, embellished with metallic pigments.

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Shunga were usually part of albums and light center folds are the norm. It is also common to have light soiling around the edges due to use.

About the artist

Born to the well-known calligrapher Shigeharu, Eisen worked as a painter, woodblock printmaker and illustrator in Edo during the 19th century. As a young man, he studied Kano painting with Hakkeisai before pursuing illustration and printmaking under Eizan. It is said that Eisen was a brothel owner and held the reputation of a debaucher and a man of questionable personal conduct. Though he completed masterful nature studies and landscapes, he is best known for his beautiful women. In addition to his artistic oeuvre, Eisen authored Zoku Ukiyo-e Ruiko, an edited account of the history of ukiyo-e.

As ukiyo-e achieved an unprecedented popularity in the 1800s, bijin (beautiful women) were the stars of this period. Eisen’s beauties present a particular type of femininity: willful, self-assertive, voluptuous and vivacious. Balancing bold compositions with intricate kimono designs, Eisen’s bijin-ga offer a quiet sensuality.